Here are my recommendations, the creme de la creme of my 2014 reading. I slushed over a thousand stories last year, and read two hundred and fifty books. So stop hounding me to watch your favorite TV show. I don’t want to hear it.
Each list is presented in no particular order.
I didn’t get to read all the short stories that I meant to this year (with all the slushing I did, I didn’t get through most of the pro mags), but I read a lot of them. Here were some of my favorites, the nines and tens of the bunch:
- “Four Scenes from Wieczniak’s Whisk-U-Away, And One Not” – Ferrett Steinmetz, in Fantasy Scroll Mag, ed. Iulian Ionescu. I cried. So very sweet.
- “The Drove” – Leah Thomas, in Three-Lobed Burning Eye, ed. Andrew S. Fuller. A much darker story. Wins my “best image of the year” award. One of my favorite online fiction magazines in general (note: I’ve been published there).
- “Testimony” – Jennifer Mason-Black, in Fireside, ed. Brian White. A human heartbreak story, set to the tune of the technology of good intentions.
- “N” – C.S. MacCath, in A is for Apocalypse, ed. Rhonda Parrish. Not a bad collection, with other good stories by Gary Philips, K.L. Young, Damien Walters, Lilah Wild, and more.
- “The God Beneath the Mountain” – James L. Sutter, in Madness on the Orient Express, ed. James Lowder. One of the best, most consistent anthologies I read this year, although I was unenthusiastic about some of the endings, not a single skim-through in the bunch. Recommend.
- “The Past, of Course” – Nikki Vogel, in One Throne Magazine, eds. Dan Dowhal and George Filipovic. This ends up a shocker; just keep reading.
I also quite liked what was in Inscription Magazine, ed. Rachel Halpern, with not a single bad story in the bunch. Goldfish Grimm’s Spicy Fiction Sushi, ed. Kelly Stiles and Michael Haynes, was also consistently good, as was The Dark Magazine, ed. Jack Fisher and Sean Wallace.
- The Magician’s Land, by Lev Grossman. Dark, snarky riff on Narnia and the like. An excellent end to the series.
- The Vanishers, by Heidi Julavits. A mind@#$% story of narrow, extremely personal scope. Main character high on the “saying entertainingly nasty things about other characters” scale.
- The Southern Reach Trilogy, by Jeff VanderMeer. Weird first-contact fiction; very literary.
- The Best American Noir of the Century, ed. James Ellroy & Otto Penzler. Not a bad one in the bunch, and lots of amazing insights into noir fiction.
- Deadpool. I read a lot of Deadpool this year. Either you like the character or you don’t, I think. I love all the main writers’ work so far (all fours or fives on Goodreads), but when non-Deadpool writers step in, it’s been a waste of time.
- Sweet Tooth – Jeff Lemire. Childhood innocence, meet end of the world. End of the world, meet hope.
- Preacher – Garth Ennis et al. While the series itself fluctuated, it was solid throughout. I add it here for its brilliant moments.
My favorite so far this year was Saga, actually, but after the jackoff ending on Y: The Last Man, I have to reserve judgment until we see the end of the series. I also quite enjoyed Hellblazer (which I finally finished), although it was distinctly spotty at times, and Unwritten, although the volumes I read this year weren’t as good as previous volumes.
Nonfiction (because why not?):
- Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir, by Jenny Lawson. I did not pee my pants over this book, no matter what anyone says.
- Story, by Robert McKee. An exhausting but brilliant writing book.
I really didn’t get through a lot of nonfiction this year, relatively speaking. I also quite enjoyed The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Liebowitz.